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Annika says it's not too late for Wie to apologize

WashPost: In the two weeks since Annika Sorenstam publicly criticized 17-year-old Michelle Wie for a "lack of respect and class" in the way she withdrew from the Ginn Tribute tournament this month, Sorenstam said Tuesday she has had no contact with Wie or anyone else from her camp.
Womens US Open Golf
Michelle Wie signs autographs between the 10th and 11th holes during practice for the 2007 Women's U.S. Open golf championship Wednesday.Chuck Burton / AP
/ Source: a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/front.htm" linktype="External" resizable="true" status="true" scrollbars="true">The Washington Post</a

In the two weeks since Annika Sorenstam publicly criticized 17-year-old Michelle Wie for a "lack of respect and class" in the way she withdrew from the Ginn Tribute tournament this month, Sorenstam said Tuesday she has had no contact with Wie or anyone else from her camp.

Asked specifically if an apology this week at the U.S. Women's Open would be too little too late, Sorenstam replied, "It's never too late," though she also made it clear she'd prefer to focus on her own attempt to defend the Open title she won a year ago in an 18-hole Monday playoff over Pat Hurst at the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island.

"I just voiced my opinion a few weeks ago," she said, referring to Wie's withdrawal, when she left the course citing a wrist injury after being 14 over par through 16 holes. "But I think I have said what I wanted said and I'm over it. I'm here and I'm playing and that's really what matters to me. I'm not really sure how they deal with these type of things. All I can say is I said what I wanted to say and I stand for what I say and I still feel that way."

Asked about Sorenstam earlier in the day, Wie said only that, "I haven't really seen her yet."

Wie will try to play here two weeks after she finished last at the LPGA Championship, 35 shots behind winner Suzann Pettersen of Norway and 10 shots behind the next-to-last player. Wie is still recovering from a fractured left wrist incurred while running in February, and she said Tuesday that her wrist "is doing a lot better."

"I feel like it's getting better every day," she said. "I have good days and I have bad days. Some days it doesn't hurt. Some days it hurts. I'm just taking it day by day. I'm working on it really hard to make it stronger. Over the last five months, it's been in a cast and splint and not a lot of playing. I lost a lot of strength. I've been gripping everything I can find, gripping thin air, balls, gripping gripper, just trying to get my grip strength back."

Wie only hit one driver off the tee all week at the LPGA Championship, but said Tuesday she'll take the big stick out of her bag more often here at Pine Needles, a 6,616-yard, recently reconditioned par 71 that has been the site of two previous Opens, in 2001 -- won by Karrie Webb -- and 1996, when Sorenstam won the second of her three Open titles.

Wie last week decided to pull out of the July 12-15 John Deere Classic on the men's PGA Tour, saying at the time she didn't think her wrist was ready. She was asked how could her wrist be ready this week for an Open championship, but not next month.

"That was a decision that I made," she said. "I just felt like I wasn't ready to play in the John Deere. I heard that they lengthened the course this year. I'm not hitting the ball as long as I can this week. If I'm not hitting the ball as long as I can this week, then I won't be able to hit it in two weeks. And come on, this is a U.S. freaking Open this week. I'm not going to miss it for anything."

Sorenstam also is recovering from an injury, a disk problem in her neck that forced her off the tour for six weeks until she returned to play at her own Ginn Tribute earlier this month. She tied for 15th at the LPGA Championship a week later and hasn't played since, but said Tuesday that her neck "is healing very nicely and I'm starting to work out again. I've been pain free for about seven or eight weeks, so life is good."

"There are times when I'm a little cautious, but the doctor has told me not to be," she said. "Mentally, I have to relax and release the club a bit. But I feel great. I've stepped up the practice sessions I have and I've been able to hit a lot of balls, so I really have no excuses."

She also gushed about returning to the Open, a tournament that "has always meant the most to me. This is an event I always get geared up for. The adrenaline pumps a little more."

Earlier this season at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the year, Sorenstam admitted she had started to lose some of her motivation after so many years of being the best player in the world. She said at the time she was getting more involved in activities away from the golf course, including a new learning center she opened in Florida two months ago.

But on Tuesday, she insisted that her recent inactivity while her injury healed may have re-ignited her fire to get back the No. 1 ranking she relinquished to Mexico's Lorena Ochoa in April.

"I might be able to get that back because I've been away from the game when I really wanted to be in the game," Sorenstam said. "I was forced to just take it easy. . . . I would say I have confidence just being inside the ropes. That's where I like to be. That's where I think I belong. I have confidence just knowing I'm healthy, and knowing that my game is coming around."